Natural Beauty Products I’m Loving

Natural beauty products

Hey guys, let’s talk about beauty and natural products for a minute. I have always been interested in my health and wellness and have just recently started testing out some natural skin and beauty products. So far I have been very impressed with the products I’ve tried and would like to share them with you so you can try them too!

Face

I guess my interest in natural products first started when I switched to using the Trader Joe’s Spa Face Wash which has several different kinds of essential oils and no yucky artificial ingredients in it. Along with this change in my skin routine, I also switched to using coconut oil as a moisturizer and occasionally lavender oil. Since I made the change to these natural, more gentle products, my skin has healed so much. As a redhead with sensitive skin, I think my skin just couldn’t handle the harshness of other products.

Pits

After I saw how well my face was doing with natural products, I decided to try a more natural deodorant. I looked at a lot of reviews online because I hadn’t heard great things and wanted to see if I could find something that worked but didn’t cost $30. I decided on Schmidt’s Naturals deodorant (which you can get at Target and also TJ Maxx) for about $4. I love this stuff! They have a lot of yummy and unique scents that I love. My favorites are the Bergamot Lime, Vanilla Rose, and Lavender Sage. My armpits have a tendency to get really irritated and this stuff has made a huge difference. It works pretty well too. I make sure to carry an extra bottle in my purse just in case I get sweaty and need to reapply.

Body

Once we finally used up the abundance of bulk body wash we had already purchased, I convinced Nick to let me buy a more natural body wash. These are typically a little more expensive than other body washes, but I found Raw Sugar Body Wash at Target for about $6 for 25 fl oz which is really not bad at all. I got the Lemon Sugar scent which is so refreshing and energizing in the morning. Nick loves it too so it’s a win! The packaging is also pretty. The company donates a bar of soap to a family-in-need with every purchase which I think is amazing. I’ve linked their website so you can check them out.

Hands

Finally, I think this stuff is pretty well known already but I am jumping on the bandwagon for Mrs. Meyer’s. It costs a lot more than the huge generic soap refills I normally buy but the ingredients in it are great and super moisturizing and the scents are soooooo yummy! I bought the limited edition Apple Cider which is super cozy. It started running out so I also bought the Iowa Pine scent which I am pretty sure is a limited edition for winter. If you haven’t already jumped on the bandwagon and feel like splurging on your hand soap, I would say this is the one you should choose. I also feel like this is such a millennial type thing to do, but whatever. Treat yo self.

As a recap, here are the natural products I am currently loving and would definitely recommend:

  1. Coconut Oil
  2. Lavender Oil
  3. Trader Joe’s Spa Face Wash
  4. Schmidt’s Naturals Deodorant
  5. Raw Sugar Body Wash
  6. Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap

What are your favorite natural items? Also, do any of you have a natural laundry soap you use that works well? I am wanting to try some but have no idea where to start. Suggestions are welcome!

Peace friends,

-Lauren

P.S. These are just products I love,  not sponsored items.

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4 Things that Help Me Relieve Stress

Things that help me relieve stress

Hey y’all, it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged and I was inspired to start blogging again while I taking a long drive in the country today. A lot has happened in my life since I last posted…I began my dream job, had my year anniversary in the Dallas area, and connected with a solid group of Jesus loving friends.

As a quick update, I have been working as a case manager at a foster care agency for the past 6+ months. This job is both super rewarding and extremely stressful. I’ve had to really focus in on managing my stress over these past months because I LOVE what I do and want to be good at it. Good social work = good self-care.

Here are 4 things I’ve added to my life that have helped me stay zen in the midst of utter chaos:

  1. Yoga Ball

    A couple of months ago, I found my back was hurting A LOT. I decided to go buy a yoga ball to sit on at work because I heard it’s supposed to help with posture and strengthening your back muscles. I picked up a really nice Adidas yoga ball at Homegoods for about 12 dollars. Not only has the yoga ball helped my back, but it also cheers me up/relaxes me/energizes me at work. There’s something about bouncing on a yoga ball that makes me feel like a little kid. Get yourself one…you won’t regret it!

  2. Essential Oils

    I am by no means an essential oils guru like some people out there, but I think they are really helpful. I have a diffuser at home and a little one shaped like a whale on my desk at work. First of all, having a little whale diffuser spouting delicious smelling water vapor while I’m working is absolutely lovely.  I really enjoy an essential oil I got at Hobby Lobby for about 4 dollars. It’s called Uplift and has Bergamot and Lemon oil. It smells SO GOOD! I use it when I’m stressed and need to focus and it really seems to help.

  3. Yoga with Adrienne

    Adrienne is a yoga guru from Austin, TX who has a full library of YouTube videos that are easy to follow. She has workouts for any stage of yogi, from beginner to expert. Just listening to Adrienne chills me out and when I put her on the TV, my pup Willow chills out too. Seriously, check her out. This is by no means an affiliate thing by the way (nothing else in this post is either).

  4. Calm

    THIS APP. It’s free and soooooo helpful for stress/anxiety. There are some features you can pay for but I am completely satisfied just using the free version. There are breathing exercises, meditations, soothing noises, and sleep stories which really help if you have trouble falling asleep. I love turning on the crackling fire noise at work when I’m cold and pretending I’m warm and cozy.

These 4 things are so simple but have really helped me get my stress and anxiety under control. Let me know what you do to de-stress. I’m always looking for suggestions!

Peace y’all!

-Lauren

 

Boxycharm Review-January 2017

Hi everyone! I’m excited to share another subscription box review with you! I received a 3 month subscription to Boxycharm for Christmas from my in-laws and have been dying to receive my first box ever since. Keep reading to learn more about Boxycharm and to see the fun beauty products I received in my first box!

Boxycharm Review

What is Boxycharm?

Boxycharm is a subscription box that sends you 4-5 beauty products each month such as makeup, skin care, hair care, or nail products. You can sign up for a one month, three month, six month, or twelve month time period. The box costs about $20 a month which ends up being a fantastic value.  All of the items in my box were full size which is one of the perks of signing up for Boxycharm versus other beauty subscription boxes.

What’s in the Box?

First off, the box was packaged very nicely like a Tetris board.  Most of the items were bubble wrapped which I appreciate. I was so excited to see what I received that I took everything out before taking pics. It was a bit of a challenge to get everything back in so neatly. Oops.

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Each month, Boxycharm has a new theme. This one was “And the Charm Award Goes To…”. You have the chance to receive an exclusive Boxycharm box worth over $250 if you follow the instructions on the card which involves posting about your January Boxycharm on social media.

The card below lists the names and descriptions of the items I received, as well as the prices and suggestions for how to use them. This is a very handy thing to have for people like me who enjoy makeup but aren’t exactly pros at it. One of the reasons I like Boxycharm so much is that it allows you to try out some makeup and beauty products that you might not otherwise buy.

There was also a coupon code for Pur cosmetics in the box.

What was in my Boxy Charm

What I Received in my First Boxycharm

I’m starting with the Vintage Highlighter Double-Chocolate Diamond & Rose Quartz ($35) because it was first on the list above. I was hoping to get a highlighter in one of my Boxycharm boxes because I don’t have any in my collection. However, I was so sad because the Rose Quartz side was completely demolished during shipping. The colors are both absolutely gorgeous and somehow the Chocolate Diamond side was completely fine and not broken at all. I am going to try to fix the Rose Quartz side using rubbing alcohol and will update you if it works.

I only took a picture of this lovely outer packaging because I did not want to get shimmery highlighter all over my house. I really wish I could have shown you the inside because the highlighters really are gorgeous!

Boxy Charm Vintage Highlighter

My box also included the Crown Dix. Soft Fan Brush SS017 ($12.99).  I am actually in short supply of makeup brushes because of my newness to the makeup world. I have a basic collection including one foundation brush, one blush brush, and a handful of eye shadow brushes. This fan brush is supposed to  work well for highlighter so hopefully I will be able to use it when I fix the highlighter I received in this box. The info card also says you can use it to dust powder all over your face so I might try using it for that purpose as well.

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Next in the box was the Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo Spray ($23). I was really excited about this product because it is highly unlikely that I will ever spend $23 on dry shampoo. That is about five times the price of the dry shampoo I currently buy.  It is nice to receive a luxury item in the box that I will definitely use. I use dry shampoo pretty frequently because I normally try to wash my hair every other day. This dry shampoo smells fantastic-it has a light fruity scent.

Boxy Charm Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo Spray

I really enjoy trying new blushes so I was excited about receiving the Pur Chateau Cheek Stain: Blush Tint and Brush Duo in Rose ($26) in my box. Some of the cream blushes I have tried in the past have been sticky and hard to blend, but not this one. The texture is very nice and blends into the skin really well. The little brush on the end is soft and would be very convenient for either travel, or just to keep in your purse. Once blended, the blush looks soft and natural, but you can also build it up to give your cheeks more color. I received the shade “rose” which is a lovely, soft pink.

This Adesse Ultra Suede Matte Top Coat ($18) was another cool item to receive in my box. I rarely buy nail products because I am very picky about what color of nail polish I use. Since I have red hair and very pale skin, it can be difficult to find nail polishes that look good with my skin. I try to pick softer, more natural looking nail colors. This product is a top coat that makes your nails look matte. I took a picture of my nails before (left pic) and after (right pic) applying the top coat, but it is hard to see the difference on camera. I promise it does make your nails look matte!

The Results of my First Boxycharm

Okay guys! That’s everything I got in my first Boxycharm! If you add everything up, the total of the box is $114.99. That’s an amazing value for only paying $20.00 for the box! I love this for a birthday, Christmas, or even mother’s day gift. It’s also perfect if you are new to the world of makeup and want to try some new products but don’t want to spend a million dollars.

I definitely recommend trying Boxycharm if you like makeup and beauty products! You can use my referral link to sign up and I will receive a small fee which would be cool!

https://boxycharm.com/refer/Laure-VHPSELZV

Thank you for reading and for bearing with me as I try to figure out the best ways to show you these products! Wishing you all the best!

-Lauren

*I am not paid to endorse any product. All opinions are my own.

Stitch Fix Review-January 2017

Happy New Year everyone! I am so excited to share this post with you because my first Stitch Fix finally arrived! My lovely husband gave me a Stitch Fix gift card for Christmas because he knows I have been dying to try Stitch Fix for a few years now. I thoroughly enjoy reading reviews from other bloggers who have tried this awesome subscription box service and hope you enjoy this post too. If you would like to see the pretty items I received in my fist fix, keep reading!

About Stitch Fix

If you are new to Stitch Fix, let me give you the run down. (If you already know about the service, you can skip ahead to see what I received.)

  • Stitch Fix is a subscription box service where you pay a $20 styling fee to have a stylist select five items of clothing. Stitch fix offers clothing, shoes, and accessories.
  • When you first sign up to receive a box, you will fill out a style profile. It’s a quick and easy process that allows you to let your stylist know your likes and dislikes. You can also write a note to your stylist to let them know if there are any specific items you are looking for. I told my stylist that I wanted mostly casual tops and sweaters and that I didn’t want to receive any jewelry in my fix.
  • It is super helpful to link your Pinterest fashion board to your style profile so your stylist can look at what you’ve been pinning for inspiration. Keep it updated and make sure you write notes about the items you are pinning so your stylist gets to know your style better.
  • When you receive your fix you have three days to decide what you want to keep and what you want to send back. Stitch fix emphasizes the importance of trying on every item in your box, even if you don’t think you will like it. It’s fun to try on things you might not pick out for yourself.
  • If you decide to buy at least one item, your styling fee will count towards that item. If you decide to keep all five items, you will get an 25% discount. This discount can really work in your favor, especially if you are on the fence about an item!

What’s In the Box?

  • A personalized note from your stylist. My stylist was Sahna and she did an amazing job!
  • An itemized bill.
  • Picture cards with ideas for how to style each item in your fix.
  • A prepaid envelope you can use to send back whatever you decide you don’t want to keep. This makes the process so easy and hassle free!
  • Five items of clothing, shoes, or accessories hand picked by your stylist, specifically for you!

Okay, that’s enough info for now! Check out what I received in my first fix!

What I Received in My Fix

First off, I love this Colibri Plaid Henley Top by Market & Spruce ($48). The colors are so pretty, and warm. I think this top will work well for fall and winter, especially here in Texas where it doesn’t get very cold. It is a light weight material and is super soft and comfy. I love the way the it looks paired with my Caslon skinny jeans and brown Franco Sarto riding boots. This top would also look cute with a solid scarf and vest.

It may be hard to see in the pictures, but you can either wear the sleeves long, or you can roll them up and use the tab on the sleeve to button them in place. There is a small pocket on the front which I think is a fun detail. I also love that this is not a full button up and that it is longer in the back.

I absolutely love this next top which is the Mondale Crochet Detail Blouse from Fun2Fun ($44).  This shirt is definitely my style. I love wearing neutrals like black and white, especially for work. I just think they make me look a little more sophisticated and professional. There are so many nice details about this top including the crochet detail around the neckline, and the keyhole in the back. I also love the loose, flowy shape, sheer material, and floral pattern which make the shirt look very feminine and soft. I paired this top with a black cami, my Caslon skinny jeans, and Sam and Libby black scallop flats from Target.

The next thing from my box is the Dinah Open Front Cardigan from Staccato ($48). Cardigans are my absolute favorite item of clothing in the whole world and I wear them year round (even in the Texas summers). I am always cold and love to bundle up in a soft cardigan and this one is perfect.

I was actually not sure about this cardigan when I first put it on because I didn’t know what to do with the drapeyness of the front. However, after my husband took some pics, I was in love and didn’t want to take it off.

It is so soft and warm even though it is a thin material! I think the colors and pattern are lovely and will look good with my black jeans and lighter colored jeans as well. I was also pleasantly surprised at the price for this piece which I think is very reasonable at $48.

I paired the cardigan with my Caslon jeans and the Sam Hi-Lo Short Sleeve Tee from Market and Spruce ($44). This was the item I was least excited about receiving in my fix. It is just a simple black hi-lo tee. However, since I fell in love with every other item in my fix, I decided to keep this as well because it was essentially free with the buy 5 discount. Even though I normally wouldn’t spend $44 for a plain black shirt, this will pair well with my other cardigans and is a staple piece. It is nice quality and I appreciate that it is lower in the back. The top is also super soft which is a plus!

And finally, the star of the show! These are the Laila Cut Out Bootie from Diba ($70).  I was not expecting to receive shoes in my fix, but I am so glad I did. They are exactly my style and actually went perfectly with the outfit I was wearing when I opened the box. I have been looking for the perfect pair of booties for a long time.  I am amazed that a stranger was able to pick out shoes for me since I am very picky about shoes! They are a gorgeous olive green color (which I love), and have virtually no heel. The material is a buttery suede and they are so comfy!

The Results of my First Stitch Fix

Okay guys, that is everything from my first Stitch Fix! I was not expecting to keep everything, but with the buy 5 discount, it makes sense for me to do so since I loved 4 out of 5 items. My stylist Sahna did an amazing job! She really listened to my preferences and delivered exactly the types of items I was looking for. I am so impressed with this subscription service!

The total with the buy 5 discount and $20 styling fee credited toward the fix was $170.50. I saved $63.50 with the 25% off which is a great deal!

If you are interested in trying Stitch Fix (which I highly recommend), you can use my referral code which will give me a credit so I can hopefully make another Stitch Fix post for you in the future! It is really worth trying out even if you decide to keep only one item. It’s also a great gift idea for a friend or family member!

Here’s my referral code:

stitchfix.com/referral/10262239

Stitch Fix Link Up

I’m also participating in a Stitch Fix link up where you can find other posts like this one. Maria Manore from Crazy Together is graciously hosting the link up and her blog is where I first discovered Stitch Fix. Check out her awesome January fix here:

http://crazytogether.com/athleisure-fix-january-stitch-fix-review/

Thanks for stopping by!

-Lauren

*All opinions are my own. I am not paid to endorse any product.

If you liked this post, you might also like:

Boxycharm Review-January 2017

stitch-fix-review-january-2017

10 Easy Last Minute Ideas for Christmas Eve

10 Easy Last Minute Christmas Eve Ideas

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged but I wanted to share a quick post so I could say Merry Christmas Eve! I hope you are all enjoying this festive day! I have a few simple last minute Christmas Eve ideas to share in case you are in need of inspiration!

These ideas for a fun, simple Christmas Eve are based off of things I am doing today or have done in the past.

10 Simple Christmas Eve Ideas

  1. Go to a Christmas Eve service.
  2. Bake and decorate Christmas cookies.
  3. Have a gingerbread house decorating competition (and eat lots of candy!)
  4. Make personalized DIY Christmas stockings.
  5. Have a game night.
  6. Drink hot chocolate, put on the fireplace, snuggle under a blanket, and put on a Christmas movie.
  7. Open one present.
  8. Go bowling.
  9. Drive around and look at Christmas lights.
  10. Read the nativity story before you get into bed.

What are your favorite Christmas Eve traditions? Share in the comments below!

A Christmas Thank You

I wanted to say a quick thank you to those of you who are reading this blog! Your support means the world to me. I hope you are surrounded by loved ones today and are enjoying a bit of peace and rest in the midst of what can be a very hectic season. Stay warm and cozy friends!

Merry Christmas!

-Lauren

10-easy-last-minute-ideas-for-christmas-eve

Why Gratitude is Key to Self-Care

Why Gratitude is Key to Self-CareHave you ever just been in a funk that you can’t seem to get out of? There’s no rhyme or reason, you just feel blah. I’ve been in a depressed, anxious mood for the past week or so and it’s been such a struggle to get out of this state. I know what would be helpful: exercise, adequate sleep, healthy eating, quiet time, and coloring. Even though I am such a big advocate for self-care, it can be extremely difficult to actually practice. Can anybody relate to this? If you are wondering what this post has to do with gratefulness, keep reading!

Today I finally had a little breakthrough and had some quiet time. It was a huge accomplishment for me to sit down, light a Christmas candle, turn on some worship music, and rest. Taking a moment to just be still and let my anxious thoughts settle was so good for my soul. I didn’t feel the need to meander around the apartment restlessly, trying to find things to clean (in a 760 square foot apartment there is only so much to clean anyways). This was a rare moment of peace in my anxiety-filled world.

I also read a few chapters from a book that was a crucial part of my spiritual development in college. It’s a lovely book written by Henri Nouwen called Life of the Beloved.  I highly recommend this book if you haven’t read it before. You can finish Life of the Beloved in one sitting and it is an easy but powerful read. Go ahead and grab the book, find yourself a cozy chair and soak it in!

Gratitude as an Antidote to Anxiety and Depression

One thing struck me from the book that I wanted to share with you is the importance of gratitude. Anxiety and depression often result in bitter, worrisome, pessimistic thoughts wreaking havoc on the mind. However, in Life of the Beloved, Nouwen reminds me that gratefulness is such a strong antidote to negative, pessimistic, and anxious thoughts. Gratefulness is a choice that can be made consciously. It takes practice to notice the things we can be thankful for on a day to day basis: a kind cashier in the Target checkout, a lovely Christmas tree warming up your living room, a husband who brings Chipotle home for lunch, a stranger who lets you merge in front of them in traffic. These are all moments we can chose to pay attention to and be grateful for.

Nouwen says, “What fascinates me so much is that every time we decide to be grateful it will be easier to see things to be grateful for. Gratitude begets gratitude as love begets love.” 

Guys, I think this is such an important lesson to remember and put into practice, especially during the holiday season. It is so easy to get caught up in the things that go wrong in our days. Trust me, I am a pro at magnifying the little things that go wrong and letting them consume my thoughts and my emotions. The fact that we can chose what we allow to fill the space of our minds is so empowering. I want to encourage you today to notice five things you are thankful for.

Christmas tree

Five Things I am Grateful for Today

  1. My adorable labradoodle puppy who gives me cuddles.
  2. My favorite soft burgundy cardigan, fresh out of the dryer.
  3. My sweet husband who made my coffee this morning.
  4. Cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies that make me feel better about life.
  5. The fact that the sun is finally shining, making it a beautiful December day.

What are you grateful for? Maybe you can make it a practice to end the day by writing down five things you appreciated during the day. I might try doing that this week to see if I can continue to improve my mood by focusing on the things that are going well rather than the things that are not.

Thanks for stopping by and reading. Wishing you tidings of comfort and joy!

-Lauren

*I am not paid to endorse any product. All opinions are my own.

Why Gratitude is Key to Self-Care

How to Cook Broccoli that Tastes Good!

 

How to Cook Perfect BroccoliHey guys! Today I’m going to share my secret to cooking perfect broccoli every time. It only takes a few minutes and a few simple ingredients to make! Broccoli is packed with nutrients and I believe it is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. If you are gluten free, dairy free, or sugar free and trying to find ways to incorporate more delicious natural, clean foods in your diet, this recipe is for you!

Ingredients

  • One or two heads of broccoli
  • Vegan butter or coconut oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Chicken broth

Cooking Directions

  • First, heat your skillet on medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Then, add enough butter or coconut oil to coat the bottom of the pan and let it melt. About a tablespoon should do. The butter will provide more flavor but if you don’t have vegan butter, coconut oil will work as a healthy option.
  • Separate your heads of broccoli into smaller bite sized pieces. You can do this by just snapping the pieces off instead of using a knife.
  • Put your broccoli in the pan and stir to coat it with the butter or oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add in enough chicken broth to coat the broccoli. You want about a half inch or so of broth in the pan. This step is important because the broccoli will steam in the chicken broth which will give it a delicious rich, buttery flavor.
  • Place a lid on your skillet and steam the broccoli for about five minutes. You can test to see if the broccoli is done cooking by poking a fork into it. The fork should pierce the broccoli easily as the finished product should be neither crunchy nor mushy. Your broccoli should also be a bright green color.

It’s as simple as that! I hope you enjoy this simple steamed broccoli recipe. If you have questions, let me know in the comments down below!

-Lauren

How to Cook Perfect Broccoli